‘Five things I did not expect from my Teach For America experience’

Dec 30, 2013 by

TFA-logoHere is part of a post that Julian Vasquez Heilig, an award-winning researcher and associate professor of educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote on his Cloaking Inquality blog. The piece, entitled “Tell-All From A TFA and KIPP Teacher: Unprepared, Isolation, Shame, and Burnout,” is largely about a former student of Heilig’s who came to him to tell him about her experience in TFA. The student is still teaching at a KIPP school as a TFA corps member so asked not to be identified.

You can see the whole piece here; following is the part of the piece that is in her words:

Graduating from college, I was energized and ready to take my place on the front line of education reform by becoming part of the Teach For America Corps. Many entering corps members are captured by the convincing sales pitch of TFA recruiters on campus. While I did meet with one of these recruiters who reinforced my decision to join, I had also spent time in my undergraduate coursework studying parts of education reform, including charter schools and Teach For America. I knew the criticisms, but I thought I knew what I was getting into. I was wrong about many things regarding Teach For America.

Here are 5 things I did not expect from my Teach For America experience:

Unpreparedness for the Classroom

The 5-week summer session at Rice University was a fast-paced, well-run training session, but it was not enough to prepare me to lead my own classroom in my first year. While I learned valuable techniques and tools to become a teacher, it certainly did not equip me for creating systems in my classroom, writing unit plans, and creating valuable assessment. Five weeks was not enough to create the type of magic that Teach For America describes in its vision. Training was like leading us to the top of a cliff before we had to jump off into the reality of our own classrooms. All I can say is the mountain was high and the fall was hard.

via ‘Five things I did not expect from my Teach For America experience’.

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